Tuesday, July 13, 2010

This just in....

George Steinbrenner, the man who bought the New York Yankees from CBS in 1973 and rebuilt them into a championship franchise, has died.

The 80-year old Steinbrenner suffered a massive heart attack at home this morning and was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, Florida, where he died around 6:30am. He was the second high-profile person in the Yankee organization this week, following the death of 99-year old Bob Sheppard on Sunday. Sheppard had been the team's public address announcer from 1951 to 2007.

The Yankees won seven World Series titles and 11 American League titles during his ownership of the club, which was also marked by changing managers 20 times in his first 23 years, which included hiring and firing Billy Martin five times. He also switched general managers 11 times.

Steinbrenner, who once said "Winning is the most important thing in my life, after breathing," was also an accomplished athlete, winning multiple letters at Culver Military Academy in Indiana and Williams Academy. He was also a high school coach and an assistant football coach at Big Ten Schools Northwestern and Purdue in the mid-1950s, following two-years in the Air Force. He also owned teams in the National Industrial and American Basketball Leagues, and was once a minority owner of the NBA's Chicago Bulls from 1975 to 1982, besides owning the Yankees. He had a pair of health scares in recent years which forced him to pass control of the Yankees over to his sons Hank and Hal in 2008. He attended just three regular season games in 2009, two of those in Tampa, where he lived, but was present for two games at the new Yankee Stadium for the teams' World Series win over Philadelphia.

Steinbrenner, who amassed his personal fotune while running the family's ship building business in Ohio, served on the board of trustees of the NCAA, was chairman of the U.S.O.C. Foundation from 1997 through 2002, was on the Olympic Overview Commission in 1988 and 1989 and served as vice prtesident of the U.S. Olympic Committee from 1989 through 1996. He was awarded both the General Douglas MacArthur USOC Foremost Award and the Dom Miller U.S. Olympic Award and also received the Gold Medal Award from the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame in 2002.

Steinbrenner was honored as "Outstanding New Yorker" in 1997 and in 1998, was named Tampa, Florida's "Citizen of the Year." He was also named the Sporting News' "Most Powerful Man in Sports" in 2002.

Steinbrenner, whose name adorns both the Yankees' Tampa spring training complex and a public high school in Lutz, Florida, is survived by his wife Joan, sisters Susan Norpell and Judy Kamm, children Hank, Jennifer, Jessica and Hal and several grandchildren. He will be honored at a private family service, and also a public service to follow. Arrangements are pending.

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